Monday, December 24, 2018




SHAM  LAL KHAAR  (Born 1937 )  ..The Last surviving  Artist Of  The Martand School of Miniature Art..

"After me  , nobody from Martand shall pick up brush. I am the last  person of a school that we call Martand School or Koshur Qalam in Miniature Art. No Govt agency or individual is interested in looking at it, leave alone its preservation or revival.

Avtar ji, Come to kashmir during summers and i shall show you more than 1000 paintings that i have done and that are in lock and key. I have mostly done work on Trika. I live for 6 months in Mattan  that is my hometown. Here in Jammu ,i have nothing, except some sketches ,old work and  photocopies. You can see or photograph these  few old  paintings.

In Mattan, We had three orginal  paintings of Narayan joo Murtchgar . The original  portrait of Mahatma Parmanand done by the great artist  , second  a picture of Shiva Bhagwati of Akingam and third Bhargshikha Bhagwati  of Martand  painted by Narayan Murchgar. All lost in the turmoil. Narayan joo Murchgar, Devi Koul  and Vasudev Gariyali were finest miniature painters kashmir ever saw. They would come to Mattan. My grand father learnt from Narayan joo  Murchgar  . Some families in Mattan and Akura  learnt from other sources .

My grand daughter  Chandsi  is a gifted Miniature Artist. I want her to get some professional training in Art  but she is pursuing B.Tech. She is equally brilliant in studies. I can't enforce my will.See her work. For me, Age is an issue now.

Say about 100 years back , People from Mattan would visit Punjab and copy Manuscripts .You get me. Pandulipikaars.   Many people knew Sharda and Sanskrit and drawing. Mattan has  centuries old history of close connection with Punjab and Sikh gurus .Pandit   Aru Ram Dutt from Mattan was blessed by Guru Har Rai. Pandit Kirpa Ram Dutt  became Kirpa singh and sacrificed his life in the historic battle of Chamkaur sahib when he joined  sikh  soldiers of  Guru Gobind singh ji . Sanmukh Singh ( Sanmukh Ram Dutt younger brother of Kirpa Ram ) was another shaheed  at the battle of Chamkaur Sahib. These persons find glorious mention in sikh scriptures.  And Guru Nanak Dev ji addressed a huge congregation of Brahmins from Mattan at Nagbal just below those lofty chinars.

In Mattan town we had some persons who did painting work  on horscopes .Men like Sri Nath Sher or Anand Sher  or Keshav Nath Jogi. In Akura, a village across lidder stream and close to Mattan town, we had Lakshman Nath.One or two persons were also doing miniature paintings for Horscopes in Bijbihara who  stopped this work after printed pictures were readily available in the market.

I painted as  a  hobby and did   sketches , illustrations and miniature work based on Trika and other religious themes.

In olden  days,  people used vegetable colours. Some colours used to come from Kashgar in  central Asia like Kashgar safeda .Later colours came from Lahore. Glue ,gum , indigo, saffron, Red lead,  Henna, turmeric, yellow ochre (Ramraj)  white zinc oxide  powder and even   dung was   used as colour .Colours were also  extracted from Marigold flowers, Carrots, Apricots and  Pomegranates . Finally synthetic  water colours and oil paints  started coming to kashmir and vegetable and fruit colours were abandoned. However, Saffron  continued to be used  for border and outline work.

Some muslims were also doing Painting in Mattan town. Two or three persons. Insha Wudoo daughter of Mr  Manzoor Ganai is a Girl from Mattan who has excelled in Painting.  She learnt from me. My blessings are for her. She has made us feel proud."

Maharaj Shah noted writer from Mattan adds 

 " We have been seeing Shyam Lal Ji working on different creative ventures but his main passion is with the brush. He used to take keen interest in dramatics and do set designing. I used his paintings in a TV serial titled Kahani Kashmir Ki. I have been knowing him since my childhood days and initially our childhood days would perceive him as a very mysterious person, who would more often remain indoors confined to his studios."

That is what he told me when alongwith poet Maharaj Krishen santoshi , i  visited him today at his Muthi residence in jammu. I found him resembling  urdu poet John Elia. And incidentally , he spoke some sentences  in that style . He is plus 80,  not well but looked after by his son and daughter in law with due care and attention. . He is a poet, painter, short story writer and a novelist. Cultural Academy has published a book authored by him on MINIATURE Paintings  . As we started to leave, he stood up ,shook his hand  firmly  and said :

"  Next time  come for Lunch . I feel happy to talk to  people who understand what i am doing.This art along with this  Artist , Both   are a  fast fading Phenomenon . No one to take up brush for this work thereafter.   "

(Avtar Mota )

CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a g Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\\.

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